Monday, December 31, 2012


ISO 400, f/5, 1/500 second, 22mm
  Oh come on, you've done it. Driving along and you see cows grazing in a pasture next to the road. You lean outside and say, "mooooo". You half expect the cows to mo back, don't you?
  This morning I was driving along Highway 411 between Madisonville and Englewood and noticed a large herd of these black and white cows laying around near the fence line. What the heck, I stopped and had a shot of a group of them looking at me hanging around in my head. Unfortunately, my shot never developed.
  When I approached the fence I expected the cows to walk away but they did the complete opposite. Everyone of them came up to the fence and checked me out. This killed my first idea. Then the man that owned them drove into the pasture in his tractor and placed a large hey roll out for them and the crowd thinned out.
  There were two that still hung around to see what I was up to. I took the camera off the tripod and squatted down low to shoot through the fence to get an up close shot. I bumped up the ISO to 400 and opened up the aperture to f/5 to make sure I got a quick shutter speed. Cows don't usually stand still for very long. I fired off some shots and this one stood out.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/15 second, 19mm
  There have been several times that I have though about stopping and photographing this barn. It sits on Highway 68 between Madisonville & Tellico Plains, TN. I actually tried one time and was sadly disappointed at the results.
  Today, however, with the trees barren of their leaves and the sun setting low just behind the barn, the scene pretty much framed itself. Tremendous blue skies with gorgeous white clouds streaking across made for a great background. All I had to do was move myself until the sun was perfectly arranged to sunburst of the roof of the barn.
  With the bright sunlight I had to bracket the frames and do an HDR. The main thing that I wanted to maintain is the long shadows from the trees and the barn that were reaching out at me.

Friday, December 28, 2012


   Just to continue with my obsession of photographing hey rolls. I was out this morning driving around between Sweetwater and Madisonville and stumbled upon this field. These two rolls were leaning up against each other and the sky formed really well behind them blocking the sun just enough to get some detail our of the clouds. I grabbed a vertical shot as well with the blue sky and clouds almost forming an arrow pointing down at the rolls.
Was hoping to get back to East Tennessee and see some snow on the Smokies but was disappointed to see none at all. Hopefully, as the new year creeps closer, we might see some snow on the mountains.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/6 second, +0.7EV, 19mm
Oncoming clouds Sunday morning at Paris Landing Marina. Seemed like they were oncoming for a 1/2 hour or so. Was very cool. Jimmy Denham and I took advantage of the opportunity to catch such a neat cloud formation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/8 second, 19mm
  The lake was like glass at Paris Landing Marina on Sunday morning. So much that you can't even tell where the height gauge stops and starts.
  Had to climb a bit for this shot. Scaled down some rocks to get low and catch the entire post and the rock & leaves in the foreground as well. Pretty scary considering that the rocks I was climbing on were covered in leaves and not sure of my footing on them.

Monday, December 24, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10 second, 24mm
  For about a half an hour yesterday Jim and I were treated to visual show put on by a group of clouds that stretched their way across the sky. They started out bursting above the horizon like and explosion and just continued to get larger and stretch out and up across the sky.
  Earlier, I had been out at the end of the fueling dock shooting the sunrise with a small sailboat at the end of the next dock named "Fiddle". When this neat cloud formation encompassed the entire sky it dawned on me to run back to that spot and catch a reflection of the same composition. The water was just like glass the entire morning and made for a fantastic reflection.
  We captured this cloud formation from in front of the marina with the lake height gauge and I will share a shot from there in a later post.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10, 19mm
  One of the best things about Christmas vacation is getting together with my brothers and my sister. And when that happens, there is usually a couple of photography excursions with my brother Jim. These turn out to be the highlight of my vacation. Being able to share the love of photography with him has kept us close even though we are hundreds of miles away between East Tennessee and Minnesota so when we get together and shoot it is usually a very special experience.
  This morning we were quite puzzled as to where we were going to take pics. So we just got into the car and drove toward Paris Landing State Park and ended up at the Paris Landing Marina.
  Fantastic choice! Mother Nature cooperated quite well, too. Giving us some dramatic clouds and wonderful light with a glass like lake. Unfortunately, our access to the entire marina was cut off by the security doors so we were bound to the main building and the gas pump dock. We made the best of it though.
  This shot is a product of my new Manfrotto tripod being able to get my camera right down on the deck behind this cleat that was aptly prepared to tie down an incoming boat that needed gas. The back light from the rising sun absolutely made the shot wonderful for me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


ISO 800, f/11, 2 seconds, +0.7EV, 19mm
  The new year will bring some new opportunities for me. Trips to Florida, Japan, and the Outer Banks in NC will take place in January, February, & March respectively. Those should all provide me with some fantastic photographic possibilities and am very excited about each of them (with the exception of the 14 hr plane flight to Japan).
  One of the neatest things that will accent my photography is a new Manfrotto tripod. I was very happy with my Dolica carbon fiber tripod but little things like sticking legs and loose grips really started getting old. I got a little more on a bonus at work than I expected and I treated myself to a new set of Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs and a 804RC2 Pan Tilt tripod head. These new items are going to take some getting used to.
  First, the legs are awesome! Rock solid Aluminum and without extending the center column stand at my eye level. My Dolica stood roughly 6 inches lower than my eye level and the difference is subtle but well worth mentioning.
  The center column extends and then can lay over on its side to both move the camera away from the legs and hold a very steady portrait orientation. This was a feature that I am very excited about. I can set the legs low and still get the camera right down on the ground if I need to. With the new 3 way pan/tilt head I can orient the camera in landscape in this position as well. Very cool.
  Speaking of the new tripod head, this will take the biggest adjustment for me. I am used to a ball head on my Dolica and moving the camera into position is very quick and easy. Now I have 3 different handles that revolve, tilt, and pan separately and if I have 2 or more loose adjusting at the same time gets very odd and confusing. I'm sure I'll get used to it and am will to be patient for the opportunity that this will give me in both being sturdier and being able to do some neat abstract photography  that I couldn't do with the ball head.
  Today is the first time I've been able to put the new gear to use and so far I really like it. There are two minor drawbacks that I am willing to deal with. 1)the tripod is a load to carry. The thicker aluminum legs are much heavier than the carbon fiber of my old Dolica but this also means they are much more sturdy and strong. Hiking with these sticks will get a little more strenuous but I need the exercise anyway. 2) That aluminum get COLD! It was in the high 30's this morning shooting and when I grabbed that bare metal it was a bit cold to the touch. I will just have to make sure I grab one of the two legs with leg warmers on them or make sure I wear my gloves.
  Today's post was taken this evening on my way home from work and couldn't resist the half moon hovering above the windmill just around the corner from the house. Very cool sunset tonight too so bright blue color surrounded it with some pink and yellow sunset color to the bottom of the frame.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 5.2 seconds, 19mm
 Winter has been wishy-washy with us here in East Tennessee this year. We will have 4 days with 65 degree temps followed by 2 days of 40 degree temps and mid-20's overnight.
  I actually like those nights when the frost gets to settle down on everything. As the sun rises in the morning, it burns that frost off and creates wonderful things like fog and that makes for fantastic photography.
  Friday morning saw a beautiful sunrise off of a frosty night and I found these few hey rolls anchored in this field right on highway 411 in Vonore, TN. My initial thoughts were to display the colorful sky and yellow/orange light behind them. The frosty conditions, however, turned my thoughts to black and white and getting a more wintry feel that was more the case with the frost that morning.
  Who knows, we may see some snow in the mountains in the next few weeks and I am just dying to get up in the Smokies and capture some of that wonderland when it happens.  We can only hope.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, -0.7EV, 19mm
  Friday gave me an opportunity to get some early morning photography in as I got to work. Something I have never noticed before was this life preserver station hanging on a post on the floating dock. It is extremely dirty from the elements taking their tole on it from years of not having to be used over the years.  As soon as I looked at it I thought of Gilligan's Island and the preserver that they displayed the actor's faces in at the exiting credits.
  The sky was blue and pinkish just before the sun came up and the fog was floating across the lake. These made for some fantastic background.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


  One thing that was definitely prevalent with the Canon 5D Mark III was the full frame sensor. When I shot Bald River Falls on Sunday afternoon, not only could I fit way more into the frame but it made it very easy to expose the shot throughout. Even though I did some in-camera HDR, I really didn't need to.
  This is my favorite image from Sunday's shoot at the falls. The only true post-processing that I did was burning on the rocks and the foreground water and turning down the exposure on the sky visible at the top of the shot so it wasn't blown out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 0.8 seconds, 19mm
  I have been renting a Canon 5D Mark III for the past 4 days and all I can say is WOW!
  I shot some basketball, a wedding, and this afternoon I shot some nature shots over in the Cherokee National Forest along River Rd. Even though I didn't even touch the surface of the capabilities of this phenomenal camera, I learned enough to know that I will own one someday.
  There are a ton of things about it that I was impressed with. The full frame sensor, the high ISO quality, the amazing focusing. The list goes on and on.
  I played around with something this afternoon though that just blew me away. In-camera HDR. Now I know there are a lot of cameras out there that have this functionality. But I have not experienced it until now. On top of all of the incredible stuff, this was incredibly fun to play around with. You can autobracket +/- 1, 2, & 3 EV into an HDR on the camera and it will shoot the brackets and blend them in a separate shot. There are 5 tone-mapped settings from a natural setting to extremely painterly settings. You can toggle that it takes an HDR on one single or shot or that it stays on with every shot you frame up. I really liked the tool and enjoyed using it.
  With a beauty of a sunset starting to unfold I stopped and set myself up on a bridge that spanned the Tellico River that allowed me to have a great vantage point to the sunset and a small reflection of it on the river.
  I was patient enough to stay until the pinks and oranges were striking the clouds that streaked overhead and and fired off a few sets of brackets until the color passed on by.
  Now one thing that I learned form FADE TO BLACK posted by Richard Bernabe is that even if you use HDR, that you still need to keep in mind the actual tonal range of the scene and that even though you can expose the foreground in the HDR, it may be better to let the shadows of the scene still be a silhouette. I kept that in mind for this shot and just let the trees and shoreline stay black and actually made them darker in Lightroom.
  Doing this let the sky and the color of the sunset be accented instead of the boring dead trees detract from it. I let the HDR blend the colors going on in the sky in the natural mode in the camera and they really stood out against the dark hourglass shape of the treeline and it's reflection.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000 second, 50mm
  Been in a photographic rut lately. Uninspired and unmotivated and just in a lull.
  Rob Hanson, a photog friend suggested looking around my neighborhood and try catching some macro details that I normally overlook. What a great idea.
  The minute I walked out the door I remembered these drains along the streets in our sub-division and then immediately thought of the Steven King book/movie "IT". The opening scene in the movie and book are of a boy named Georgie Dembrough playing in the rain with a newspaper boat his brother Bill had made for him. His boat was floating quickly along the road side and fell into a drain just like this one.
  While looking for the boat in the drain, the evil Pennywise the Dancing Clown appears in the drain with a balloon and tries to persuade Georgie to come down into the sewer with him by offering him a balloon. Georgie asks Pennywise if the balloons float down there. Pennywise answers with probably the most quoted phrase from the movie/book. "We all float down here". Won't let you know what happens after that in case you haven't seen or read it.
  I don't much see one of these drains without thinking of that scene.
  I had to turn the center column of my tripod upside down to get this low angle (also suggested by Rob) and used a wide open aperture to blur the background.
  Really want to thank Rob for the suggestions. Made for a decent afternoon of shooting.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 seconds, 50mm
  Since Thanksgiving is a couple of days in our rear view mirror it is officially the Christmas Season. As is usual in the Denham household, and not many things are, the day after Thanksgiving is when the Christmas Tree gets put up.
  This season's colors are Turquoise, Silver, and White. To don the new colors is a new 7' Spruce Tree that we purchased from K-Mart. It is perfect for the living room and about as easy as you can get to assemble. 3 sections, pre-lit, and all of the branches are hinged to fold down when put together.
  My wife put a beautiful picture taken with her phone on Facebook of the tree standing in front of our living room window with the red drapes symmetrically centering the tree between them. I of course couldn't top that so this morning I mounted the good ol' 50mm on the camera and got up close to bring out some intimate details of the tree. This bell ornament was perfect for the new season and actually displayed the 2 main colors the tree was decorated in.
  I was torn as to how to approach the depth of field in this shot. I took this one at f/20 so I could get the sunburst off of the background LED lights. I also took the same shot at f/2.8 to blur the background and draw all attention to the ornament.  For me, the sunburst on the LED lights won out. Some burning of the background leaves and shadows helped make the ornament stand out more.
  Still waiting for the Christmas Spirit to hit me this year. I hope in the next couple of weeks things will change.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


ISO 400, f/16, 1/3 second, 35mm
  About a year ago Tim Owens and I stumbled upon an 8-10 foot waterfall that was tucked back along a smaller stream that feeds into the Tellico River. Yesterday, I decided to explore this area again and try to get a different vantage point from where we shot it last year.
  To my surprise the downstream water was lower than expected so I was able to walk across the stream on rocks and then climb and then slide down much larger rocks to get very close to falls.
  Unfortunately, there were a lot of fallen leaves on the rocks and it made it very slick and dangerous trying to maneuver across them. I did find this vantage point, which was probably the tallest, safest angle where the entire flow of water was visible.
  The ridge above the falls was very ominous looming large over the stream. Right at the end of the ridge stood this one lone tree that still held on to some bright yellow leaves. I shot the frame vertically to include this tree in the shot.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


ISO 200, f/14, 1/2 second, 19mm
  Something that I try to look for when I'm out shooting is an abstract image. I haven't really done a good job of hunting these abstracts down but today, when I was processing the larger part of this shot I zoomed up close onto the edge of this shelf waterfall and the jagged line where the water pours off created a symmetrical abstract with the golden reflection of the opposing mountainside reflecting on the rocks and the white water splitting diagonally from bottom right to top left.
  I actually did this oriented landscape at first but really liked it cropped portrait because of the way the texture of the water flows through the frame.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Here is another one of those images that you pass over several times and then all of the sudden, you look one more time and it stands out to you.
Took this back in June when the Rhododendron were blooming along the Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail. The Rhododendron are visible at the top of the frame in the background and they were everywhere.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 5 seconds, 19mm
Beings that it is #thirstythursdaypics and the theme is curated by +Giuseppe Basile and +Mark Esguerra, I worked on an image taken at Abalone Cove, in Palos Verdes, CA while shooting with Mark.
  Mark actually posted a very similar image a while back and it motivated me to look at working on mine.
  We were completely cloud covered that evening so the only true color to show was the blue of the blue hour. This large rock seemed to draw Mark, me and +Rob Lopes to it as a great subject. Especially with the green rocks and birds in the background. I tried to use the edges of the rock to the left to draw the eye to the large rock. The water drainage through the beach sand on the bottom right served the same purpose as it catches the rock's reflection.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/3 second, -0.3EV, 85mm
  If anyone tells you that the 4 mile hike to Ramsey Cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a "moderately" tough hike. They are a professional. And they are lying. At least as far as I'm concerned they are.
  My buddy Tim Owens and I made the 8 mile round trip hike to the notably the most beautiful waterfall in the Smokies this morning. All I can say is that it was worth the hike one time. I will never do it again. Whew! 95% of the hike was at a steep, uphill grade over rocks and roots. I have not been that winded and sore since 2-a-days in 8th grade football. I almost lost my breakfast 3 times.
  When we did arrive at Ramsey Cascades, it was everything it was cracked up to be. 100 feet tall breaking down over large rocks all the way. It was gorgeous!
  It was also very cold. There was still snow on the ground from 3 feet of it 2 weeks ago. It was probably 35-40 degrees at the falls and with me sweating through both my t-shirt and my hoody on the trek up, the cold turned that sweat to really cold. I had forgot to pack my gloves as well so my hands were extremely cold too.
  I guess the only true disappointing thing that happened to us today was that we spotted several nice spots to photograph on the way back but by the time we got to them, the sun was up and shining bright on the water so it would have washed out the highlights on the water.
  Today's image was a little bit different type of shot for me. After getting a few broad images of the falls with my wide angle lens, I decided to mount my 85mm Canon lens and get up close and personal with the waterfall. I very seldom step into this type of almost macro account of the waterfall but boy was I extremely happy with it. Shooting it as black and white really allowed for some detail of these 2 rocks that are actually 6-7 feet tall but look much small compressed in the 85mm frame.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 0.8 seconds, 25mm
  You ever take one of those pictures that when you first look at it, it just doesn't do anything for you? Then you go back, crop a little bit here, process a little different there, and all of the sudden you have exactly what you wanted?
  Sparks Lane in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an iconic place to go in the early spring and late fall for color and rolling fog. When I was there on October 21st, this was the very first picture I took. When I took the shot, initially I wasn't impressed with it. The tree closest to me was more barren of leaves than I wanted and it just didn't seem to look good to me.
  This morning, I processed a bracketed set of shots in Photomatix Essentials even though was rewarded with more color than I originally thought, still wasn't enamored with the image.
  I noticed something though. Most of the leafless part of that tree was at the top. Also at the top of the image was the top of the mountains behind the road and a colorless sky. I started to crop the image as a panorama and cutting off the colorless, needless top of the frame that made it dull. HOLY COW!
  Some minor adjustments in Lightroom to contrast and saturation and some burning in the background areas and voila! I have an iconic image of Sparks Lane that I was always searching for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


ISO 100, f/22, 13 Seconds, 35mm
  Finding time to shoot has been a challenge lately. Why today I took a day off and was planning on going to Tremont in the Smokies to do some shooting. Well, I wake up and it's raining. What do they say about the best laid plans?
  Well, last week I got an opportunity to take a few shots before going into work. There was a great morning fog crawling across the lake and there was  a test boat still tied up to the floating dock that made for a neat scene.  A long, 13 second exposure flattened out the water and created a bit more detail in the reflection of the dock and the boat.
  There was just a hint of blue and yellow light just before the sun was about to come up.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/6 second, 35mm
  Going back to my images from Cades Cove a couple of weeks ago. The fog hovering through the cove was absolutely amazing. In this shot it looked like the fog was determined to separate this line of trees from both the beautifully colored mountains behind them and from all the people driving by on Scenic Loop Rd.
  I had to crop out some distracting elements and isolate these trees in a panoramic-type shot. If I could have fit a wide angle like this with my 70-300 lens I would've done it in order to flatten the scene with the telephoto lens. Happy with what turned out with the wide angle though.
  Can't wait til spring time comes around and I can catch some of this type of fog with some spring color.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/8, 5 seconds, 19mm
  Fall color has just about disappeared in East Tennessee. There are still a few trees with bright yellow and orange leaves still hanging on, but the dense color that was here a couple of weeks ago has left us.
  Tim Owens and I drove up the Cherohala Skyway on Wednesday with the hope of catching some shots of the beautiful snow that had fallen a couple of days before. Unfortunately, there just wasn't any snow to be seen on the Skyway so we turned back and went to Indian Boundary to hopefully catch some neat reflections on the lake.
  Color had already left Indian Boundary and the light left us so fast that we didn't have much time to compose many shots.
  Right before we left, though, I saw this small stump sticking up out of the water with all of these old leaves scattered around it under the water. The sky was reflecting from just to the right of the stump and casting a white glow on the water. It was perfect for a black and white shot.
  With all the leaves laying around the stump and the sky's white cast it was a beautiful way of noticing what fall has left behind and that winter was coming upon us fast and hard. The cold temperatures didn't do much to distract it either.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/5 second, 70mm
  This is probably the most photographed tree in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. Just past Hyatt Lane on the back end of the Scenic Loop this large Oak tree stands tall and proud in a large field with a spectacular mountainous background.

Monday, October 29, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 6 seconds, -0.7 EV, 19mm
  This is by far one of my favorite waterfall images that I have taken. The fog and fallen leaves along the Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains on Sunday was just breathtaking to photograph.
  The fog and rainy conditions made for some longer than normal exposures than I normally like, but in this case it works well with the dreamy atmosphere.
  The leaves almost make for a complete border around the frame by only keeping the low lying leaves from the overhanging tree visible at the top of the shot.  The rest of the fallen leaves frame up the sides.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


ISO 200, f/18, 0.6 seconds, -0.7EV, 19mm
  Halloween is just a couple of days away and when Tim Owens and I were shooting pics along the Roaring Fork Motor and Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park yesterday the fog hanging over the mountainside created this ominous scene that is perfect for this time of year.
  Fog creates such a mysterious feel and look to any landscape, The way it hovered in and around the tops of these leafless trees was both scary and beautiful at the same time. The few trees in  the background with yellow leafs on them provide a touch of color to break up the almost monochrome look.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 29mm
Delving back into my Abalone Cove shots while shooting with +Mark Esguerra  & +Rob Lopes I found this shot and really fell in love with it. Had to do some cropping out of some foreground but really liked the way it works with the vertical spray from behind the rocks and perfectly still water in front of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/5 second, 29mm
  Not much as far as clouds go in Cades Cove on Sunday morning. The fog, however, was the star of the day.
  This was taken just past Sparks Lane at the beginning of Scenic Loop Rd. This lone tree didn't have any foliage left on it but it still stood well against the fog-laden background with the sun striking the top of the mountains.

Monday, October 22, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 24mm
   There are a ton of icons in and around Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. Carter Shields Cabin is no exception.
  One of the last stops along the Scenic Loop Rd, this little cabin is tucked back away from the road in a quaint hollow and at this time of year is surrounded by wonderful fall color from the surrounding trees.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10 second, 29mm
  Boy what a great morning of photography in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.
  First of all, it was my first nature photography excursion since getting my new Canon T3i camera on Friday. What a great little camera. Light years better than that of my XS, not that I didn't like my XS and will probably use it when I get it repaired. I shot all day long at a cheerleading competition the day before and just using the T3i syncing with my flash was amazing. Love the flip-out, rotating LCD screen as well. Just a handy little all-around camera.
  There wasn't a great deal of fall color left in Cades Cove when I arrived this morning. There was, however, a lot of ground fog, which was awesome and created great atmosphere. I did find this grouping of colorful trees as I just turned onto Hyatt Lane and with the fog hovering in the background just had to stop and shoot here.
  I always love using the cross-roads in the cove as leading lines. Especially when they have these awesome fence posts along the roadway.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/30 second, 70mm
  One of the great things about using a telephoto lens, like my Canon 70-300 IS USM lens, is that by zooming you can compress the whole image and make it look like everything is closer together.
  Today's post is a perfect example. By using my zoom lens, I compressed the landscape to make all of the layers of mountains look like they lie on top of each other. The low-lying clouds break up the landscape but still allow it the compressed look.
  The colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway were ridiculous on Monday morning and looked like a Crayola Crayons box. The compressed look created by using the zoom lens help show off all of these colors by laying them on top of each other and closer together.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 1/2 second, 19mm
  The first stop on our Blue Ridge Parkway tour, well the first stop we got to shoot photos, was at the Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields.
  There are a couple of neat things about shooting these falls that make it terribly unique to any other waterfall that I have shot. First, the .20 mile hike to the falls from the parking area is through a Mountain Laurel & Rhododendron Forest. The path is canopied by Mountain Laurel and it is absolutely beautiful. When we were here in the spring with Richard Bernabe's NC Waterfall Workshop everything was covered in green and Trillium were blooming on the forest floor next to the path. It is quite a gorgeous little hike.
  The second thing about Lower Falls is that the rocks are granite and the moss that grows on them isn't green, it's gold. It makes the waterfall special and unique and incredibly beautiful even though the falls themselves are quite stunning without the golden surroundings.
  The photo above is a composition that I didn't shoot back in the spring. This large rock in the foreground is neatly shaped and actually points to the waterfall in the background. The rocks to the right of it point to the waterfall as well drawing the eye to the waterfall. As if it needed something to draw more attention to it.
  Although fall color was almost gone at the falls, there were still some reds and greens hanging around to add to the right side of the mountain wall next to the falls.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


ISO 400,  f/20, 1/2 second, 19mm
  One of the areas we visited along the Blue Ridge Parkway on Sunday was Skinny Dip Falls. To get there you stop at the Looking Glass Rock Overlook. Across the road from the parking area you will find a path that leads 1/2 miles over rocks and roots through the forest to a 3-tier waterfall.
  The last tier of Skinny Dip Falls runs under a foot bridge before tumbling down a few cascades into the brightly colored forest.
  Today's post is one of those downstream cascades that I photographed looking downstream instead of back upstream at the falls. This waterfall created a wonderful flow to the image from the cascade rocks in the foreground to the autumn tree reflection in the background.
  This was probably my favorite shot of the day for more than just the visual flow reasoning. While stepping across rocks to get to this vantage point, I accidentally stepped mid-shin into the stream after falling off balance. It was well worth getting a soaker, though, for this shot.

Monday, October 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/125, 120mm
  What a difference a day makes.
  Tim Owens and I met up with Curt Fleenor Sunday morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway to photograph sunrise and then fall color along the Parkway all day.
  Although we did get to photograph some beautiful waterfalls, Mother Nature did not allow us to capture any sunrise or brilliant fall color due to complete cloud cover all day long. This is perfect for shooting moving water, but for colorful mountain vistas we would have much rather had some blue skies mixed in with the clouds.
  We did have a great time and took a lot of photos though and I was extremely happy to meet and shoot with G+ friend Curt Fleenor for the first time. Fantastic guy and a great photographic eye.
  This morning, Tim and I thought we would run into more of the same. We started out on the Parkway working our way toward Interstate 26 thinking the fog would push us west and into the Smokies to shoot at the Roaring Fork Motor Trail on our journey home.
  At roughly 9:00am however, the clouds broke over the Parkway and gave us a stunning view of Looking Glass Rock from Pounding Mill Overlook. Low clouds were hovering all around the valley with the sun striking through. It was exactly what we had hoped for on Sunday.
  Usually, I shoot wide angle and try to capture grand vistas. This morning, though, I was more inclined to mount the 70-300 Canon lens on and compress the landscape some. I am so glad I did. It allowed me to draw more attention to Looking Glass Rock than the entire valley and still catch some of that wonderful fall color in the process.

Friday, October 12, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.8 seconds, -1.0EV, 19mm
  Sometimes it's easier for me to see the big picture than to focus in on the subtle details of a scene. With today's post, I didn't see the subtle details until I was trying to process the original image of the big picture.
  This colorful red leaf was sitting on this rock just above the water line of the Tellico River. I was trying to photograph several of these leaves in the foreground with the river and trees in the background when it struck me. This leaf against the pewter colored rocks provided a great contrast to each other and cropped down to it's simplest detail was a way better composition than the big picture I was shooting.
  Wish I would have noticed this when I was taking the photograph I would have used a large aperture and created a small depth of field.
  Maybe next time I will see the subtle details before I snap the shutter.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, -1 EV, 22mm
  Tried something new with one of my shots from Sunday's venture into the Cherokee National Forest. I first processed this shot as I normally do and then applied the Dreamland Effect in OnOne's Perfect Effects 3 Free software. Really love that filter.
  Then I converted the shot to an infrared black and white. I absolutely loved what it did for the image. The normal person may not like it, but I really do. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 seconds, 19mm
  It's another #waterfallwednesday curated by +Eric Leslie and an autumn image of Baby Falls in the Cherokee National Forest is my submission. Variable ND filter allowed me an 8 second exposure to capture a pair of eddy's to the bottom right of the falls. Beautiful fall color everywhere in the forest and mountains of East Tennessee right now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 seconds, 21mm, -0.7 EV
  Another shot from my Sunday afternoon jaunt into the Cherokee National Forest. 
  The Tellico River had just crossed under River Rd to run along the left of the road on the way to Bald River Falls approximately a 1/2 miles further down. These scattering of rocks that were littered with fallen leaves drew us immediately after we descended to the river bank.

Monday, October 8, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 24mm
  It's amazing how revisiting spots you've photographed before change with the change of seasons. I had photographed this same spot a couple of years ago in the winter time when the temperature was in the 30's and there wasn't  a leaf one on any tree in view. I ended up processing it as a black and white and sepia due to the fact that there wasn't any color in the shot.
  Yesterday was a different story, however, with fall color spreading throughout the Cherokee National Forest.
  As was the story with the first time I visited here, the large rocks in the foreground are what drew me to this spot and composition. What I didn't notice until I processed this shot is how the large rock wall in the background helps create flow to the shot as the forest wraps around it.
  Processed this as an HDR in order to grab detail all throughout the shot and I am really happy with the way it turned out.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.8 seconds, 28mm
  Fall color is in full swing in the Cherokee National Forest.
  Overcast skies provided us with some prime light for photographing mid-day waterfalls and cascades today. After noticing some prime spots for combining those cascades with fall color reflections yesterday, Tim Owens and I met up on River Rd and took advantage of the situation.
  My first stop was very close to the entrance of River Rd from the Cherohala Skyway. My recon from yesterday drew me to this place because it is one of the 2 or 3 spots along the river where there is a long, smooth stretch of water without rocks or trees to break up the smooth reflection of the colorful trees in the background.
  When I arrived there today I noticed this awesome little cascades with a few yellow leaves that were visible under the surface of the water. I donned my waders and took the plunge to get a vantage point right in front of the cascade so that the yellow leaves created a great foreground interest.
  To my delight, the reflection of the trees carried right up to the cascade and actually curved the treetops around the rocks.
  What a great afternoon along the Tellico River today with a lot more posts from here to come.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2.5 seconds, 19mm
  Most fall mornings are quite brisk and cold, especially in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains.
  But when the sun clears the horizon, the cold is cut down by it's golden rays. When shining on the bright fall foliage, the sunlight can not only warm the temperatures, but also make those fall colors explode!


ISO 100, f/20, 3.2 seconds, 19mm, -0,3 EV
  When we find a waterfall to photograph, the first thing we do is search for foreground interest for composition. One of the coolest things that we can use is an eddy. An eddy is where the flow of water turns back against the main flow and causes a swirling effect. Some are very large and take an extremely long shutter speed of 8 seconds or more to capture. Others, like the one in the foreground of today's image, are much smaller and in this case spin more rapidly and are able to be captured in a couple of seconds.
  Today's image even has a bonus in that there were several yellow leaves trapped in the eddy and adding color to the swirl.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 2.5 seconds, 19mm
  The colors they are a changing. Found these lovely twin cascades along Newfound Gap Rd in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sunday morning. The yellow leaves on the trees in the background make the statement that fall is definitely in season in the Smokies.

Monday, October 1, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/2 seconds, 19mm
  No place I'd rather be in the fall than the Smoky Mountains. The upper elevations are popping with color right now and +Tim Owens and I were lucky enough to catch some of that fall color along Newfound Gap Rd (Hwy 441) yesterday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 4 seconds, 19mm
  It's amazing what a difference a week makes.
  Last week, Tim Owens, Alex Banakas, and I set up at Clingman's Dome to try and catch an epic sunrise that just never happened.
  This morning, Tim and I took a journey up to Newfound Gap with the hope of better cooperation from Mother Nature. Mother Nature did not disappoint us this time.
  We drove just past the Newfound Gap pull off to an unnamed parking are that gave us a tremendous view down the gap with layers of mountains in the background and beautiful fall color in the foreground. The clouds were exploding with pinks, yellows, reds, and oranges against a brilliant blue sky. It was awesome!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2 seconds, 19mm
  On the way to Abram's Falls we stopped a couple of times to photograph some of the beautiful cascades along Abram's Creek.
  Today's post is the from the first stop we made on the trail. I noticed the reflection happening with the yellow & orange trees across the river. Peak fall color is about 2 weeks away but there is plenty of colors happening early in the Smokies. Especially in the higher elevations.
  I think I surprised John and Lynn by jumping into the stream to achieve the composition I wanted so very early on our hike. There was no way I could get what I wanted from this reflection from the bank though and I assured them that I do this all the time while hiking and so far have never dealt with blisters on my feet from hiking in them wet.

Friday, September 28, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 seconds, 19mm
  Took a day of vacation from work today to meet my friend John Deas and his wife Lynn and hike to Abraham's Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  The hike was amazing. 5 miles round trip up and down the mountain sides and along Abraham's Creek. As moderately difficult as the hike is there are tons of people who make the rocky trek to a gorgeous waterfall.
  About 1/2 way along the trail, we were just talking away while I was watching the ground to avoid rocks and roots in the trail. I happened to just pick up my head and about 25 feet in front of me was a Black Bear munching on something in one of the dead tree trunks in the brush. We all stopped and started backing up carefully and in a minute or two the bear just wondered away and we continued on.
  This was the first time I had ever come face-to-face with a Black Bear on foot. It was scary, exhilarating, and cool all at the same time. The bear acted like he didn't even notice us and didn't have a care as to what was going on.
  After we arrived at Abraham's Falls, I waded into the creek to catch a couple of compositions and then worked my way up close to the falls where John was.
  As I was leaving I noticed these yellow leaves swirling in an eddy between these rocks and knew I had to get that shot.  I took two exposures, one for the eddy swirl and another for the waterfall that was overexposed in the eddy swirl shot. I then combined them in Photoshop Elements. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 19mm

 Sometimes you just get lucky.
  This morning, once again after I dropped off my daughter at school, I was nearly out of gas in my Jeep and was frantically trying to get somewhere that I could capture an epic sunrise that was happening right in front of me.
  I pulled into the Rocky Top station in Vonore and pumped a quick $30 of gas into my truck and then quickly drove down Highway 360 to a spot that I have taken shots from several times. When I arrived there, I noticed fall colors starting to push through on some of the trees across the lake from me. The fog was creeping along the water and the sky was split in two with some white, streaking clouds to the left and spotty, magenta & yellow hued clouds to the right. It was one of the most epic sunrises I have ever seen right before the sun rose up.
  I bracketed 5 shots in a 3 step panorama and then processed in Photomatix Essentials and then stitched together in Photoshop Elements. Some minor tweaking in Lightroom and viola!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/4 second, 35mm
  Tim Owens, Alex Banakas, and I made an early morning trek to Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this morning for sunrise. We made the trip with the hope that we would see some early morning fog or an epic color sunrise. Unfortunately, there was no fog on the mountains and virtually no clouds in the sky but that didn't stop us from capturing some beautiful color from the tallest peak in the Smokies.